ARE OUR EMOTIONS BASED ON OUR GENDER ?
In my previous blog , I had discussed the role of a gender in writing fiction. I had discussed whether male novelists can create authentic female characters. The problem with the male novelists could be that they can imagine and characterize women in fiction but that would be depicting their own fancy of a woman and not necessarily a genuine woman. This is because , as I had argued in that blog , the way a man thinks could be different from the way a woman might think. However , I had suggested that since the characters in a novel are created by internalizing and empathising the real persons in life , it is possible for male novelists to understand and empathise with women. I had ended that blog with a promise that I would discuss the emotions with respect to the gender. Therefore , in this blog , I would look at the gender issue from the types of emotions that we experience.
My argument in the previous blog was that a novelist internalizes the emotions of a real person that she /he comes across in real life. This internalising and having an empathy are the starting points for creating a fictional character. However, this reasoning presupposes that the emotions that a novelist experiences are universal and , more importantly, gender neutral.
I am convinced that human emotions are universal because that is the reason why we can empathise with others. In fact , this universality of human emotions is the basis of fiction. We enjoy reading fiction because we can identify with the emotions of fictional characters and experience catharsis. Even novelists are able write novels because they can transform their personal emotions into a universal expression. Therefore , there is no doubt that our emotions are universal. However , there is no agreement on whether our emotions are gender neutral.
Let us , therefore , look at the question whether our emotions are really independent of our gender or not ? Unfortunately , there is no cogent answer to this question. Purely from the sociological perspective , there is no way to deny that there exists a gender based typecast roles for men and women. This is true for all cultural and social backgrounds. From the human rights point of view this disparity is glaring and needs to be addressed on war footing. However, the real question is whether this typecasting has any scientific and psychological basis or not ? Apparently , science does not have any precise answer to this question , at least not as yet. As we have learnt in case of LGBT community , forget emotions , science has no explanation for even gender differences of all shades. This is because gender is not a simple function of a fixed number of genes. In case of emotions linked to the gender , it is still more complicated.
In such a scenario , how does one decide whether our emotions are really gender based or not ? The answer lies in the fact that the emotions are not precise like logic is. Every single emotion that we can think of , has hundreds of finer nuances. If you recollect , Shakespeare famously said that love is a many splendored thing. This is true of not just love , but of all our emotions. Therefore , we are capable of experiencing infinitely many shades of emotions. In fact , since our individual experiences are tinted with unique melangé of shades of emotions , we feel that we are unique. This feeling of being unique is valid because we can intuitively perceive the difference between our own experience and that of others. In other words , we don’t analyse emotions ,either our own or other’s. We simply intuitively experience them and know that they are different. Since we can experience infinitely many emotions, there is no bar on experiencing emotions that are typical of different genders. What possibly happens is that our early upbringing limits our exposure to limited number of role models which are incidentally typecast. These role models , to whom we are exposed to in our formative years , limit our sensibility and therefore our ability to experience gender typical emotions.
Returning to the question posed in the title , I think the answer is no. However, this answer is qualified with the proviso that though the emotions are not gender based , our upbringing may limit us from experiencing emotions of genders different from our own gender. The proof of this conclusion lies in our increasing acceptance of LGBT. This has been possible because we have become less and less conditioned to reject alternative sexualities. This sense of inclusiveness has been a gradual process of widening perspective during the formative years of succeeding generations.
In my next blog , I would discuss the idea of a generation gap and whether it plays any role in writing fiction.